Yesterday, a statue was unveiled near the starting line of the Boston Marathon. The statue, titled Yes You Can, is dedicated to Dick and Rick Hoyt who will compete in their 31st Boston Marathon next week.
Running the oldest annual marathon every year for three decades is inspirational enough. Competing once again at their respective ages of 72 and 51 is humbling for those of us, despite relative youth, who can’t imagine such an endeavour.
But neither of those reasons gets you a statue at the starting line of this famous race. The fact that Dick has pushed Rick, who has cerebral palsy, in an adapted wheelchair every one of those 787 miles is why Team Hoyt has been immortalized in bronze.
I’ve written about the Hoyts before (Just like other families). After learning about the Dick’s incredible dedication – born out of Rick’s comment that when they are running his disability disappears – my husband decided to push our son Deane in the annual Terry Fox Run.
This was despite not being a regular runner and a rather steep ravine in the course he picked. For four or five years, he felt driven to do it. I suspect in the back of his mind was the thought that if Dick Hoyt could run marathons with his son, the least he could do for his son was 10 kilometres.
The Hoyts’ motto, Yes You Can, isn’t meant to imply that everyone can do the amazing feats – 1000 plus races – they have accomplished. It certainly isn’t a guilt trip. They run because they want to show other disabled people what is possible. They hope to inspire others to follow their own dreams.
Eventually, Deane got too big for our jogging stroller and as a family we found our own ways to participate. Deane does the Terry Fox on his bike, skis in a sit ski, glides behind our boat in a tube with extra deep seats and attends rock concerts proudly sitting in his wheelchair.
It’s not always easy to find ways to include yourself. Two years after they started running, the Hoyts applied to the Boston Marathon. They were told they did not qualify as an individual or as a wheelchair athlete and no exception would be made for their special circumstance. Few years later, they ran a marathon under the qualifying time for the Boston race. Since then, no one has been able to say they couldn’t be included.
Often others may not see how or why to involve a person with disability. They throw up many obstacles – some out of fear, some from lack of imagination and some from blindly following the rules. That’s when we have to go the extra mile and pursue our passions, our dreams, the things that help our children forget their disabilities.
I would love to be in Boston on Monday to see Rick once again leave his disability behind as his father pushes him through the streets, to be part of the crowd, to cheer them on. That’s not going to happen. Maybe I should spend the time thinking of how to continue to apply the “Yes You Can” motto to our lives.